Social network giant, Facebook, which has a knack of being in controversy for its greed towards users’ data, has again land up in controversial revelation according to which Facebook has admitted that it is using your phone number to target ads whether you give it to them willingly or not.
This simply means that Facebook is sharing its users’ phone numbers with advertisers without the users actually realizing this fact. the social network company confirmed that it uses phone numbers provided for security reason, such as 2-factor authorization (2FA), to personalize users’s experience on the platform.
A company spokeswoman told Gizmodo that “we use the information people provide to offer a more personalized experience, including showing more relevant ads.” Shockingly, the spokeswoman pointed out that people can set up two-factor authentication without offering their phone numbers — something not many aware of.
The revelation was first reported by Gizmodo as well as researchers from Northeastern and Princeton Universities.
2FA is a login method that requires users to enter NOT only their username and password, but also a second piece of information to ensure authenticity of users.
Gizmodo and the researchers also found that Facebook can collect and share your information even if another Facebook user uploads their contacts with your info included.
Gizmodo reported — Researchers at Northwestern uploaded a list of hundreds of landline numbers from Northeastern University. These are numbers that people who work for Northeastern are unlikely to have added to their accounts, though it’s very likely that the numbers would be in the address books of people who know them and who might have uploaded them to Facebook in order to “find friends.” The researchers found that many of these numbers could be targeted with ads, and when they ran an ad campaign, the ad turned up in the Facebook news feed of Mislove, whose landline had been included in the file; I confirmed this with my own test targeting his landline number.
What this means is that even if you don’t want Facebook to allow advertisers to target you by your phone number, Facebook is still finding a way to let advertisers target you by your phone number and other personal details. This is even true if you literally don’t give Facebook your phone number. If you gave Facebook a fake email account when you signed up, behind the scenes, they know what your real email account is.
This immoral practice by Facebook is in existence despite of the Facebook reiterating statements where it says that the company is transparent regarding its ads policies.
Nevertheless, concerned Facebook users, instead of giving phone numbers, can opt to choose alternate methods as 2FA like Google Authenticator or Duo Security Inc. However these options was only made available in May 2018, before which Facebook required mobile numbers for 2FA.